Daily life moved online like never before in 2020 and it continues to 2021.
If you spent most of last year on video calls, you’ve probably wondered about using videoconferencing software for music.
Music collaboration is important for inspiration and working together face-to-face is more difficult right now.
However, using regular video apps for music can be a challenge. Configuring audio, setting up mics, and sharing your DAW screen can grind a fun session to a halt.
Even so, there are many effective options out there for musicians who need to work together from afar.
In this article, I’m showing you the top 10 Zoom alternatives for musicians so you can collaborate on music remotely.
Why Zoom doesn’t work well for music
Unfortunately, most major video chat programs aren’t a good fit for the music.
They’re complex, laggy, and don’t handle audio very effectively—especially when it comes to your DAW.
Resourceful musicians will always find their own solutions. And many people have worked remotely using Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet. However, those business-oriented apps will always be a poor fit for working on music. Here’s why.
When you’re trying to explain your ideas, express yourself, or sharing something you’re excited about, audio dropout is a dealbreaker.
Moreover, most video chat doesn’t even offer the option to route system audio into your call.
That means getting your DAW signal into a meeting requires a complicated patchwork of third-party workarounds.
When you’ve done all that you’ll still have to struggle with your microphone, audio interface, and webcam to start.
You don’t need to use a dedicated video tool for music, but choosing one makes collaboration feel much closer to the vibe of a studio session.
The 5 Best Zoom Alternatives for Musicians
With that out of the way, here are the top Zoom alternatives musicians can use to work collaborate online.
LANDR Sessions is the first purpose-built video calling app for musicians to work online.
Sessions let you connect with collaborators, share your screen, and easily stream DAW audio in pristine sound quality.
It’s the easiest and most effective option for working sessions, mix feedback, teaching, and learning music online.
Sessions is the natural extension of the effective collaboration tools already built into the LANDR platform.
Upload tracks leave time-stamped comments and now create music in real-time with full video and high-quality audio support.
Discord is a popular tool based around organized channels called servers.
It provides asynchronous text chat and video calling within community groups
The best of all for DAW users, Discord features solid audio options that made it popular with gamers and online streamers.
These will give you a bit more flexibility when it comes to audio streaming.
Discord can handle several different forms of communication, so it’s not quite as easy to set up for music as dedicated musician video chat.
Reaper is one of the most affordable full DAWs that you can find out there. It frequently makes the list of best DAW apps ever—especially for musicians who want to save money as much as possible.
Reaper also launched features for remote collaboration. Mostly focused on online jamming, the Reapers Ninjam plugin allows you to jam with people from all over the world.
The biggest challenge for online jamming is latency. Ninjam makes up for this by measuring latency between users and overcompensating for it. The result is an in-time jam session–as long as everyone is playing to a click.
Ninjam also released a remote recording in the same fashion. You’re able to remotely record in your session with other musicians, and Ninjam will compensate for the latency and line up your remote collaborators’ performance.
Like others on this list, reaper handles DAW collaboration, but not video—you’ll still have to pair NInjam with traditional video chat to communicate in real-time.
4. Ohm Studio
Ohm Studio is a collaboration-focused DAW environment by plugin company Ohmforce.
The plugin – Ohm Studio was launched in 2013. It is an ongoing project that provides some of the only options for multiple users to work in the same DAW session at once.
This allows you to use Ohm Studio like a text-based Google Doc in real-time.
Unfortunately, Ohm Studio doesn’t include video, so you’ll still need to connect with a basic video call app to get the full experience.
5. OBS Studio
OBS or Open Broadcaster Software is an open-source video streaming tool that has exploded in popularity among live streamers.
It allows you to merge video and audio sources such as a webcam, system audio, and screen capture to broadcast directly to the Livestream platform of your choice.
That means you can use it to stream performances, lessons, or other types of music sessions anywhere that host them online.
The technology that powers OBS is the backbone of the popular online busking community on Reddit’s RPAN live feed.
Unfortunately, traditional live streaming is one-way communication. Participants in the stream can include comments and reactions, but can’t work together like in the studio.
Remote collaboration tools
We all hope to get back to our normal creative workflows when we can meet in person again.
Until then, digital tools can support musicians to keep the spark of inspiration alive.
The first wave of videoconferencing software might not have hit the mark, but there are more incredible features out there for musicians than ever before.
We’ve made it through this article, you’ll have a great start on the best zoom alternatives for music collaboration.